Mother, wife, chiropractor, bicyclist, woman.
Monica Adkins is all of these. She’s a neighbor, a gardener, a dog-owner.
Simply put, she is a woman of intention and purpose. It doesn’t take long to feel at ease around Adkins. With her frank demeanor and kind hazel eyes, there is no opportunity for pretense. Easily summed up in three words, her philosophy – left of center – permeates every aspect of the life she chooses to live.
Adkins and her husband Paul moved to Eugene’s Whiteaker neighborhood in 2007, after brief stints in Atlanta, Ga., Misoula, Mont., and Ithaca, N.Y. They were searching for the perfect place to build a life together and raise their children. A place to build bikes and abandon the car for a simpler, healthier lifestyle. They found exactly what they were looking for in Eugene. They’ve been here ever since and they will stay here, “until the children inherit the plot,” she says.
Raised in a traditional home by German parents, Adkins grew up on New York’s Long Island. Every night her family said a prayer before and after dinner; play clothes were never worn outside the yard; titles like “Mr.” and “Mrs.” always used. Don’t draw attention to yourself, don’t make waves.
“Not that I ever had that need to bring attention to myself,” said Adkins. “But I certainly didn’t feel like walking on that line was a true expression of who I was. I just felt a little suffocated, a little stifled growing up.”
Adkins doesn’t waste time with resentment though. Instead, she gives her parent’s disciplined parenting style credit for increasing her awareness and strengthening her philosophy. Living a cohesive life helps keep a unified front within the family, and sometimes, she says, that’s important.
Adkins shares an unshakable bond with her husband Paul. They first met over the phone in 1995. He was a guide for mountain bike vacations in West Virginia; she was planning an annual summer adventure with a girlfriend. She called with questions about the the bike trails, but after 45 minutes on the phone with Paul, a new question presented itself. Is it possible to fall in love with someone over the phone? As it turns out, yes.
After a childhood of walking on the fence, trying not to stand out, Adkins had finally met someone with a passion for adversity that matched her own. That summer, she went to West Virginia. Within six months they were engaged. A year and half later they married. The search for a community of other kindred spirits led them from one side of the country and back again. Along the way they had four children – Rainy Day, 11, Torrent Gray, 9, Dare September and Sanguine Sky, both 6.
The names of her children are further testament to her left-of-center philosophy. Paul had his heart set on the name Rainy Day long before he had even met her, which he announced early in their relationship.
“I’m thinking right away (because I knew I was going to marry him), I thought, oh yeah right, not if I have something to do with it,” she said. “And then six years later, we had Rainy Day. It never changed.”
Now, she gets it.
“People feel like [the rain] is a bad thing,” she said. “But for us it feels more like it’s ours because when it’s raining less people are out. So it’s ours for the taking – the beauty that nobody else gets to see.”
And that set the standard for the children to follow. Torrent Gray will always remind Paul of the rivers he crossed while mountain biking in Alaska.
Shortly after the twins were born, they learned that Sanguine had Down syndrome. After a sleepless night worried that their new, lethargic baby girl wouldn’t nurse, the realization came as a relief. Sanguine, the color of blood and good health, suited her perfectly.
“We said, OK, new path,” said Adkins. “She’s got a great name, it suits her, and to this day she really is Sanguine Sky. She’s so healthy, the sky’s the limit. She reaches for every star that she can try to grab. She’s up with the big kids all the time, racing with the big dogs. She’s all of it.”
“We were dared to have three, we got four,” she said. “The jokes on us.” He was born, with Sanguine, in September.
Again, left of center. The question, “why?” never seems to phase Adkins, and that’s because she does every thing for a reason. Not because it’s easy or it’s what everybody else is doing. The choice to go car-free means that she’s out there every day, rain or shine with her kids.
“When you have the intention to do something, you’ve got to stand by it,” she says. “You’ve got to know what you’re doing. And you have to know that it’s not easy because when your not going in that same current as everybody else, your putting yourself out there for comment.”
And many people comment — some positive, some not so much. But for Adkins, that’s OK. She’s living life on her terms and she wouldn’t do it any other way.